James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, [12] December 1780

To Edmund Pendleton

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Besides Pendleton’s docketing identification, the cover sheet bears the following notes: (a) “omit” in JM’s hand, signifying that he decided to exclude the letter from his papers being assembled for publication; (b) “cop.,” probably a jotting by William C. Rives’s clerk after transcribing it for inclusion in Madison, Letters (Cong. ed.) description begins [William C. Rives and Philip R. Fendall, eds.], Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (published by order of Congress; 4 vols.; Philadelphia, 1865). description ends ; and (c) “changes in French Cabinet,” a reminder in the hand of Rives of what particularly interested him in the letter.

Philada. Decemr. [12]1 1780

Dear Sir.

I had the pleasure of yours of the 2d.2 instant yesterday. We have not heard a word of the fleet which lately left Cheasapeake. There is little doubt that the whole of it has gone to the Southward.3

Our intelligence from Europe confirms the accession of Portugal to the Neutral league; so far at least as to exclude the English from the privileges which their Vessels of War have hitherto enjoyed in her ports. The Ariel commanded by P. Jones which had on board the cloathing &c. which has been long expected from France was dismasted a few days after she sailed and obliged to return into port; an event which must prolong the sufferings which our army has been exposed to from the delay of this supply. Mr. Sartine, the Minister of the french Marine has been lately removed from the admi[ni]stration of that departmt. His successor is the Marquis de Caster, who is held out to us as a man of greater activity & from whom we may hope for more effectual co-operation.

An Irish paper informs us that Mr. Laurens was committed to the Tower on the 6th. of Octr. by the three Secretaries of State on suspicion of high treason. As the warrant with the names of the Secretaries subscribed (with some other particulars) is inserted, no hope remains of the fact being a forgery.4

With very sincere regard, I am Dr. Sir Yr Obt Servt.

J. Madison Junr.

1As indicated by the first words of JM’s letter of 12 December to Jones (q.v.), and by the first words of this one to Pendleton, JM heard from each of these men in the same mail. Since the news in his reply of 12 December to Jones closely resembles what he here writes to Pendleton, he almost certainly penned this letter on that date also.

2Error by JM for “4th.”

3In the left-hand margin, written parallel to the edge of the paper and alongside this paragraph, are the following barely legible words, apparently in JM’s hand, “& with Leslies tro[o]ps” (Jameson to JM, 4 November 1780, n. 3). This marginal addition may, of course, have been added by JM many years after he wrote the original letter.

4For editorial comment about the matters touched upon in the two final paragraphs of this letter, see JM to Jones, 12 December 1780, nn. 6 through 10.

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